Social Media Management Tools: Which One is for You?

Keeping up with your small business’s social media needs is a full time job. But wait: wasn’t running your small business supposed to be your full time job? Thanks to social media, are you now expected to have 2? Not if you let one of the social media management tools lighten your load.

So yes, that’s precisely what you’ll do: you’ll use one of the social media management tools and get back to the task of running your actual business. But wait: which one will you choose?

Daunted by the task of comparing and contrasting social media management tools, many small business owners give up. It almost seems easier to keep managing media manually, doesn’t it? But wait: we’re here to help!

Social Media Management Tools for Small Business

New social media management tools are introduced regularly but if you’re a busy small business owner, jumping in on a beta isn’t always the best idea. Instead, we’re sticking with the 3 we know best: Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer.

Hootsuite

By far the best known (and advertised) of our 3 favorite social media management tools, Hootsuite is a social media management giant.

Upside

Hootsuite services the most social media platforms – 35 at last count. From Hootsuite you can curate content, analyze audience engagement, schedule posts, and manage campaigns – all from one dashboard. But wait, there’s more! Hootsuite not only allows you to track how your customers engage and which posts appeal the most, it also makes engaging with your customers easier. No need to bounce around from one platform to the next; you can respond from your dashboard and even save responses to FAQ for speed and consistency.

Downside

That dashboard though! With so many tools at your fingertips, Hootsuite’s dashboard is intimidating. It can take a while to get accustomed to the layout. This adjustment period can make this social media management tool feel harder than your current method of manually scheduling posts. If you hang in there, you will get used to it and soon you’ll be managing your social media like a pro.

Price

Hootsuite offers a free plan with limited features though most small business owners choose to invest $10/month to get the additional benefits the paid plan offers.

Buffer

Is a bit lesser known than Hootsuite, but delivers an outstanding bang for the buck.

Upside

If you’ve previously been frustrated by Hootsuite’s dashboard, Buffer’s will feel like a welcome relief. It’s clean, uncluttered, and straightforward design is easy to navigate from day 1. While it isn’t designed to handle 35 different social media platforms, it has the majors covered: Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, and Google Plus. Buffer also has an image creation tool, Pablo, that offers free stock photos as well as the ability to import JPEG and PNG files.

Downside

Unfortunately, Buffer’s downside is pretty ugly for the small business owner: no ability to engage from the dashboard. This means that after checking on your social media accounts, reviewing metrics and post engagement, you then have to log into each social media account separately in order to respond to comments from customers and fans. Since engagement is essential for small business success, this is a significant downside.

Price

Buffer also offers a free plan but, again, most small businesses are best served by the $10/month plan.

Sprout Social

Like both Buffer and Hootsuite, Sprout Social offers users a place to curate content and schedule posts, as well as the opportunity to review analytic reports and track social media campaign success.

Upside

Sprout Social’s reports are beyond compare. Not only can you track engagement, you can also track sent messages, demographics, and community growth. Analytics can be packaged into custom branded reports and exported to CSV and PDF. In addition, Sprout Social is great for team players. Engagements can be assigned in app to specific team members for follow through.

Downside

Get ready, because it’s a biggie: no Pinterest! With over 150 million users, Pinterest is a powerful platform, especially if your target audience includes women between the ages of 34-55. 54% of people in that category are on Pinterest. With this much power, we can’t understand why Sprout Social wouldn’t include Pinterest in their list of platforms served.

Price

Maybe this should have gone under Downside, but the Sprout Social price tag shows that beautiful insights don’t come cheap. Expect to pay $49 per month or more for access to Sprout Social.

Final Thoughts

These are the top 3 most talked about social media management tools. Only you can determine which one is best for your business. Each has strong positives as well as at least 1 strong negative. Our advice is to pick the negative you can best accept and commit. Your social media strategy will thank you, your customers will thank you, and your bottom line will be your reward.

Do you have any thoughts on these or other social media management tools? Why not drop us a line and tell us about your experience? We’d love to hear from you!